Sheila Jackson Lee
Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee (D-TX) is one of several activists arrested in a civil disobedience action for voting rights. Activists blocked the entrance to the Hart Senate Building to protest the restriction of voting rights in state legislatures across the United States and urge Congress to pass the For the People Act, 29 Jul 2021. (Allison Bailey/Shutterstock)

Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee Becomes Third Black Member of Congress Arrested for Protesting Republican Anti-Voting Restrictions

Last month, we reported on Rep. Joyce Beatty, chairwoman of the Congressional Black Caucus, being arrested during a peaceful protest for voting rights reform. A few days later, Rep. Hank Johnson of Georgia was arrested in a similar protest. And now, less than two weeks after that, a third Black lawmaker has again been arrested for protesting voter restriction laws and protecting voting rights for people of color.

The Guardian’s Maanvi Singh has reported that “Sheila Jackson Lee, a Democratic representative of Texas, was arrested in Washington D.C. on Thursday (July 29) while protesting lawmakers’ delay in passing legislation to protect voting rights, becoming the third member of the Congressional Black Caucus to be arrested for civil disobedience in recent weeks.”

Official police records show that Jackson Lee was arrested and detained while participating in a peaceful voting rights demonstration in front of the Hart Senate office building.

In a video she posted to social media following her arrest, Jackson Lee said, “any action that is a peaceful act of civil disobedience is worthy and more, to push all of us to do better.”

In a statement praising Jackson Lee’s efforts, Odus Evbagharu, chair of the Harris County Democratic Party, said, “once again, we see a Black woman at the forefront of defending our civil rights and leading the fight to save our fragile democracy. Congresswoman Lee understands we are at a pivotal moment in the history of our nation, where our sacred right to vote is under grave threat. She recognizes that we all must take action to protect this right.”

According to Singh, “Jackson Lee’s arrest came after a House committee hearing with Democratic lawmakers from Texas, who recently staged a high-profile walkout from the state legislature in order to prevent Republicans from passing restrictive new voting laws.”

“Texas is already one of the hardest places to vote in the U.S.,” she said. “Democrats in the state say the proposed laws would make it even harder and further disenfranchise Black and minority voters by imposing ID requirements on mail-in ballots and banning 24-hour and drive-through voting.”

Democrats are currently attempting to rework their current voting reform bill called the For the People Act following its recent failure along party lines on the Senate floor. If they are unable to secure bipartisan support for a watered-down version of the bill, the progressive side of the Democratic party has urged Democratic leaders to attempt reforming Senate rules, doing away with the 60-vote filibuster rule that has so far prevented passage of the bill. However, Joe Manchin, a moderate Democrat from West Virginia, is at least one member of the Democratic party resistant to that idea. Without his support — and vote — the filibuster is likely to remain, preventing the essential voter protection reform from taking place.


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